There have been five MAC players drafted in the first round by the NFL in the new century. The last one was 2009 (can you name him without looking? I couldn't, astonishingly) and that's not a huge drought, but if you believe all the mock drafts percolating on the Internet, Muhammad Wilkerson is going to be the sixth.
We learned of Wilkerson's defensive prowess this past season, which helped him gain a Hustle Belt Belt in Week 2 and honorable mentions in Week 8 and Week 10. Him declaring early for the pros was a skosh of a surprise — this doesn't happen much in our conference — but hey, good on him. Even better if they play pro football this year!
But the decision looks even better now that his stock has exponentially grown in recent months. First we thought he might be a second-day pick, but now it's hard to find a mock draft that doesn't include him somewhere in the first round. SB Nation's own has him at No. 30 (NY Jets), and all eight NFL.com mockety mocks have him somewhere between No. 24 (New Orleans) and No. 30.
Looking at the official analysis, it's all positive: the weaknesses portion begins with "Hard to point out weaknesses in his game." And this is coming from a league who considers red hair for a quarterback a negative.
MAC FIRST ROUND NFL DRAFT PICKS SINCE 2000
2009: Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois (San Diego Chargers, #16)
2007: Joe Staley, OT, Central Michigan (San Francisco 49ers, #28)
2004: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Miami (Pittsburgh Steelers, #11)
2004: Jason Babin, DE, Western Michigan (Houston Texans, #27)
2003: Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall (Jacksonville Jaguars, #7)